When you seek psychotherapy or counseling, you may assume your information will be kept confidential, and you may not worry too much about the details. If so, this page won't be very important to you. On the other hand, you may have a great deal of concern about how private and secure psychotherapy really is. You may be a public figure, or have an especially sensitive occupation: politics, law enforcement, medicine, celebrity, aviation, or positions requiring security clearances or total confidentiality. Or you may have been harmed in the past by healthcare providers or therapists who were disrespectful about your privacy and dignity.
Successful therapy often requires clients to take personal and emotional risks. This is much easier if you can trust your therapist's abilities and integrity. So, we take responsibility for creating the conditions for trust. A metaphor for this is that we want to build a strong container that doesn't leak.
That's why we have this privacy page. One part of creating a strong container is being clear about your privacy and confidentiality. In a group practice such as The Colorado Center, our therapists periodically consult with each other to improve the quality of our service. We do this in a way to disguise your identity and protect your privacy. Any consultation we do is done with great care and respect for your privacy.
For example, one day, you may fill out forms for life insurance, long-term care insurance, or you may file a disability claim, and you may name your therapist (as required). When you do, the company or agency will send us a request to send your "entire record" to them. The request will come to us with your signed consent (which you never anticipated would be used this way). We don't release this information without very clear "fresh" consent from you first. While patients have certain rights regarding their records, we also are mindful that there can be unintended and disastrous consequences down the road from releasing these records to third parties and we try our best to warn you of such possibilities, to the extent that we know of them.
We may have one of our employees access your records for clerical reasons (such as for billing, compiling outcome data for our clinical research program, etc.). For added safety and security, we train our employees on issues and laws pertaining to patient privacy and confidentiality. We also conduct thorough criminal background checks on our clinical and administrative employees. Your records will only be accessed by our staff for these kinds of administrative or quality-control purposes.
There are state and federal laws relating to your privacy in psychotherapy (see links below). Federal laws (including HIPAA) are relatively weak when it comes to your privacy. State laws and our professional ethics and standards are tougher. We adhere to all of these laws and standards, and also to the highest spirit of these laws: protecting your privacy to make it safe to pursue the hard work of psychotherapy. There are several areas we want to highlight that may generate questions about your privacy. Please talk with us if you have any concerns about how The Colorado Center handles these areas:
Please be frank with us if you have any concerns about these or other areas so we can do our best to address them completely.
More Privacy Information on the Web:
For the federal government website explaining the HIPAA Privacy Rule, click here
For the Colorado Mental Health Statute, covering many laws governing privacy in psychotherapy, click here
For the Health Policy section of the Center for Democracy and Technology, click here
For SAMHSA's website on Mental Health privacy issues, click here
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